Rep. Clyde Previews 5 Problems To Watch For In Election 2014
Warns of increased reasons to reject ballots, no improvement in Ohio's real voting problems
October 30, 2014
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State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today released a list of the top 5 problems to watch for in the upcoming 2014 general election.  After several bills were passed creating new reasons to reject ballots, Ohioans can expect to see their voting rights threatened at the ballot box, often over insignificant errors that they do not even realize cause their ballots to be thrown out. See the list below and here:

Top 5 problems to watch for in Election 2014

1. Minority voters’ provisional ballots will be disproportionately rejected in some counties. 

Yesterday, the Center for American Progress issued a report showing that voters are more likely to be forced to cast a provisional ballot in Ohio if they’re from a county with a higher minority population.  Going one step further, precinct-level data for Cuyahoga County shows that voters from a precinct with a higher minority population than the county average are more likely to have their provisional ballots rejected

2.  Expect to see more rejected provisional ballots for technical reasons like missing zip code, birth date errors, or non-matching ID numbers. 

  • Leading in all the wrong ways:  Ohio already leads the country in provisional ballots cast and thrown out.  In 2012, Ohio threw out 34,299 provisional ballots and was a dismal 41st in the country in the rate of counting provisional ballots as a proportion of all ballots cast in the election.  The last thing Ohio needs is to throw out even more ballots. 

  • Arbitrary birth date rule: The legislature changed the law for counting provisional ballots, creating new reasons to throw out ballots.  Birth date is now a required field on the paperwork.  However, Board of Elections members can arbitrarily decide not to require it from ballot to ballot, county to county – creating an equal protection problem, arbitrarily disenfranchising Ohio voters.

  • Confusing address rule: The law changes also now require the voter’s address on the paperwork.  The Secretary of State has given no guidance for determining whether an address has been provided.  A missing zip code or apartment number might disqualify a ballot or it might not, depending on the county. 

  • No recourse from official error: There is no provision in the new law for handling errors in the county’s registration records.  So, if a voter provides her correct ID number, but the county’s record contains an error, the “non-match” will mean the ballot must be thrown out.  This happened in 2012 in the House District 98 race when voter Jacob McGaha gave his correct ID number on his ballot paperwork, but Tuscarawas County had entered the data incorrectly when he registered. 

  • No help from poll workers:  Under the new law, poll workers, who should have the most expertise in helping voters vote, no longer have to sign the ballot affirmation indicating that they reviewed the paperwork.  Voters are inexplicably on their own when every tiny mistake is a disenfranchising trap.

  • No opportunity to correct errors:  While absentee voters can expect to get a letter in the mail if they missed one of the required fields on their absentee paperwork, the Secretary of State is not allowing election officials to offer that same opportunity to provisional voters.  Most mistakes on those are fatal. 

3.  Expect to see more rejected absentee ballots for technical reasons

Same reasons as above. 

4.  Voters disenfranchised because they are directed to the wrong polling place by poll workers. 

  • Husted fought to throw out votes:  Secretary Husted fought in court to be able to throw out ballots that are cast in the wrong precinct, even when caused by poll workers directing voters to the wrong place.  While the federal courts have forced Ohio to count ballots when a voter shows up to the correct multiple-precinct location, thousands of voters are still directed to the wrong location by poll workers and their ballots are not counted.  Over 9,000 such ballots were rejected in 2012 thanks to Husted’s court battle.  Unlike Ohio, 26 states count ballots cast in the wrong polling location.  And the other states that reject these ballots see many thousands fewer than Ohio.

  • No polling place lookup: Secretary Husted is supposed to provide voters with a method of finding their polling location.  However, his website does not provide it to voters who have moved which is a violation of Ohio law.  I asked him to provide this Search by Voter’s Address before the 2012 election. He did not provide it then and he doesn’t provide it now. 

  • Confusing poll locations:  Voters in half of Ohio’s precincts don’t have a polling location in their precinct.  They have to travel outside their home precinct to vote and their ballots are thrown out if they don’t go to the correct place and aren’t directed to the correct place by poll workers.

5.  Expect to see Ohio’s turnout lag other states. 

  • Purging instead of Expanding:  In the 2012 presidential election, only 65% of Ohio’s voting-age population turned out to vote leaving 3 million eligible adults on the sidelines.  11 other states had higher turnout and most of those have Same Day Registration, whereas Ohio has since repealed its Same Day Registration.  Ohio is consistently beaten by other states in turnout and Secretary Husted has done nothing to expand the vote.  In fact, he instead often cites his aggressive purging of voters – the most aggressive in the country – as a major achievement. 

  • No online registration:  Secretary Husted did not switch on online voter registration like he could and should have.  Instead, he duplicated the BMV website’s tool to update one’s address only.  Current Ohio law provides the authority for the Secretary of State to switch on online voter registration for all.  Instead, the Secretary falsely claims he is barred from switching it on for all and blames the legislature for not requiring online registration.  

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